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Year of the Artist, Day 113: Keith Giffen, Part 5 – O.M.A.C. #1

by  in Comic News Comment

Every day this year, I will be examining the artwork on a single comic book story. Today’s artist is Keith Giffen, and the issue is O.M.A.C. #1, which was published by DC and is cover dated November 2011. Enjoy!

As I mentioned yesterday, in the late 1990s and for most of the 2000s, Giffen didn’t draw a whole lot, and I own very little of what he did draw. He drew Ambush Bug: Year None, which I own, but I figured we’d had enough of the Bug, and anyway, this comic came out more recently and is in the same vein as Year None, so I thought this would be a fine way to go out. Plus, as Giffen imitated Kirby early in his career, it’s nice that we come back to him imitating Kirby on one of Kirby’s own creations. It’s all circular, people!


Let’s see … the bulky, geometric hero? The loose limbs of the victims in the first panel? The square face? The oversized, squared-off fingers? The precise, sharp edges to the spot blacks? Yep, this is a very Kirby-esque page. Scott Koblish, who’s a good artist in his own right, inks this, and I suppose that Giffen was perfectly happy with the sleeker inking lines, as he’s definitely trying to make this more “superheroic.” Koblish/Giffen gives us some rougher inking, but for the most part, it’s a far cry from Giffen’s heyday, as we saw a few days ago.


The circle is complete, as this is so much like Giffen’s 1970s work that it could easily be from that decade but for the higher production values. Instead of his late 1980s/early 1990s angular style, we get a more rounded face on Jody. Like a lot of Kirby women (especially from the 1970s), her face is a bit wide, with eyes a bit farther apart than we might expect, and Giffen hints at the devastating cheekbones that Kirby loved giving his women. She’s also not a waif, as Kirby built his women like he built his men – to last, damn it! She’s certainly not a big woman, but she doesn’t look like someone you could push around. The shift from the way Giffen had been drawing 20 years earlier back to the way he was drawing 35 years earlier is odd. I mean, it’s not shocking, as he’s working on a Kirby book, but maybe DC told him his more idiosyncratic stuff just wasn’t going to cut it in the lockstep DCnU. This is as “mainstream” as Giffen gets, I guess.

Tony is a douchebag, by the way, because he has that goatee. Why is everyone in fiction with a goatee like that a douchebag? There have to be people in real life with goatees like that who aren’t douchebags, right?


More Kirby homage here, as O.M.A.C. tears through the cannon fodder. Once again, we see the looseness of the limbs of the cannon fodder – for crying out loud, they’re even masked, because they are there simply to be overwhelmed – and the blocky anatomy, both Kirby staples. In Panel 3, we get some nice Kirby hands – that brown-suited scientist at the bottom could have modeled for the King – and some nice exaggerated facial expressions from our hero and the other scientist. It’s a nice page, flowing well, full of action, and very clear. It’s a big contrast to, say, Trencher.


Hey, look! It’s Big Barda’s Evil Twin!


Big Barda’s Evil Twin turns out to be that evil robot in Panel 1, because of course she does. Man, that’s another super Kirby panel, from the distended skin around the mouth as it expands for the guns to come out of it, to the guns themselves. The machinery is very Kirby-esque, even though we can’t see it too clearly because of the brightness of the gunfire (this issue is colored by Hi-Fi; I’ve already expressed my disappointment with their brand of coloring in the post about Yildiray Cinar’s work on Legion of Super-Heroes). Panel 3, as weirdly disturbing it is, is another good example of Giffen channeling Kirby. The impact O.M.A.C. makes on the robot is impressive, and even the explosion reminds us of the King. O.M.A.C.’s hands are, naturally, quite large, bigger than even we expect from a Kirby homage, as O.M.A.C. seems to burst forward toward the robot. It’s a neat panel.


Once more with the Kirby pastiche! We get the Kirby Krackle in Panel 1, and the machinery on this page is very Kirby-ish. It’s gigantic, oppressive, seemingly superfluous, and apparently fragile. That’s everything a Kirby machine is!

Giffen seems to be comfortable with his Kirby homages, as he’s firing up another Kirby book in near future, presumably with this kind of art. I miss his late 1980s/early 1990s stuff, though, because that stuff was really cool and unlike pretty much anything that you could find in comics. Oh well, if Giffen’s happy, that’s all that matters! I hope you had fun going through his career, and tomorrow, I’ll check out another artist who, at one point, became almost incomprehensible before coming back from the brink (to a degree; I’m sure there are people who still think he’s incomprehensible!). Who could it be? You’ll just have to wait until tomorrow to find out! Soothe your impatient soul in the archives!